The End of Summer “Daze” or It’s Labor Day Already!

The end of August can be somewhat bittersweet: The warm, lazy days of Summer are slowly becoming a sweet memory.  Parents, students and teachers are gearing up for a new school year to begin and college campuses have already begun conducting classes.  Baseball season is winding down while high school soccer games and football practice are largely underway. But, even though the Great New York State Fair and Labor Day officially mark the end of the Summer season, Summer stays with us until September 21!  Days remain mostly warm and sunny, the nights a bit cooler.  And, although tall, golden-eyed Sunflowers have settled back home facing East, there remain colorful songbirds at the feeder and the hum of cicadas and crickets are still lulling us to sleep.    

This time of year clearly resonates with many of our haiku contributors who savour this slow transition to Autumn.  Sheila Forsyth’s (Fayetteville 2014) haiku says goodbye to Summer with a beautiful image:

Evening cricket plays                                                                                                                                                        farewell to Summer on its                                                                                                                                              hind leg violin

As does Ellen Barnes’ (Syracuse 2014) haiku:

  Sunflower faces                                                                                                                                                                  A swoosh of yellow and black:                                                                                                                                       Goldfinch dinnertime

And, Jay Cox (Pompey 2010) pays homage to Summer’s end with this expansive and thoughtful haiku:

Monarch butterflies                                                                                                                                                          dance with fading wildflowers                                                                                                                                     as the sun slides low

We wanted to share with you a series of delightful haiku posters from our collection which clearly display these final “daze” of Summer.  Enjoy!

From our 2009 Series, Artist: Q. Cassetti and Poet: David Hitchcock who writes: “Although I’m often inspired by the interplay of sound and thought, I also write about my own experiences and try to put into words memories that will resonate with others. In these poems, I want people to say, “Yes, I remember that feeling.”  I also think a little humor can open them to thoughts that they may not have had otherwise. So here the poem opens with a little humor, two puns in four words. Then it becomes slightly nostalgic, remembering summer as a child, and how fast it goes, and how baseball games and swimming can remind us of that time. There’s all that in just three little lines.

Chiefly close to home, / catching fast flying Summer / in a baseball mitt.

From our 2011 Series, Artist: Keisha Cedeno and PoetLori DiCaprio-Lee:

When the Great Fair comes / school cannot be far behind / Summer ends too soon

From our 2002 Series,  Poet: Martin Walls and Artist: James Ryan, now an Illustration teacher in Central Massachusetts:

Fizz of cicadas / Slows as evening cools—lights hum / On in Armory Square

 

History of Haiku & Basho: Haruo Shirane at Coldfront

View this little overview of some of the elements and history of haiku and Basho from this 2012 post at Coldfront about a Poets House lecture given by Haruo Shirane, the Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University.

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quote:


While Western audiences tend to think of haiku as a “special genre” that is practiced by trained experts, Shirane argued that haiku was never an exclusive aesthetic form but has always functioned as an important means of social interaction in Japan. These poetic exchanges took place both between individuals and in groups. Haiku in fact became a popular art form precisely because of its accessibility.

Shirane took the audience through a number of poems, introducing a list of key Japanese terms such as hokku (opening verse), kigo(seasonal word), and kireji (cutting word). He lingered at length on the key notion of ga-zoku which connotes the mixture of the elegant and the vulgar, or the classical and the popular. While classical Japanese poetry deals primarily with elegant topics, the emergence of the urban commoner class in the 17th century led to the mixing of the vulgar and the classical that made up the heart of haiku poetry. Here is an example from a well-known poem by Basho:

An old pond—
A frog leaps in,
The sound of water

While a frog is often associated with singing and music in the classical tradition, this poem illustrates the sound of the frog as it leaps into the water, suggesting the arrival of spring after a long winter (“old pond”).


Read the rest of the post here

Rain Taxi Review of The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku

The summer 2014 free online issue of Rain Taxi features a review by Peter McDonald of the recent haiku anthology, The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku, edited by Allan Burns.

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It begins:

quote:


Casual readers and practitioners in English-language haiku often assume this brief poetic form, imported to the West from Japan at the turn of the 19th century, is indelibly associated with elegiac snapshots of nature in three-line poems of 5-7-5 syllables. They might also have heard of the great master haikuist Matsuo Bashō, who elevated haiku to an art form in the 17th century. It was Bashō who stressed quiet attention to the immediacy of an image taken from seasonal nature, where the “haiku moment” must be spontaneous, shorn of adornment or simile, with no intrusion of the authorial ego.

Today, of course, in its burgeoning western tradition, haiku has evolved into multiple creative strains, far removed from the lockstep syllable count of its early years and often with only an incidental focus on nature.


Read the rest of this thoughtful review at Rain Taxi